Scientists at the University of Sydney recruited 60,000 Australians aged 45 or older and measured their fruit and vegetable intake, psychological distress and lifestyle factors at two points; between 2006 and 2008 then 2010. The Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, a 10-item questionnaire that measures anxiety and depressive symptoms, was used to determined participants’ stress levels. Characteristics associated with stress at the beginning of the experiment included being younger, being female and being overweight or obese. Fruit and veg consumption was also monitored through short questions.
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Looking at the findings, researchers discovered that people who tuck into three to four daily helpings of veggies were 12 per cent less at risk of stress than those who ate none or just one serving.
Women showed even more promising results, with ladies who tucked into three to four servings a day having an 18 per cent lower chance of distress. And women who ate five to seven helpings of the good stuff had a 23 per cent lower risk than those who ate one or none.
The amount of fruit consumed actually had no correlation with lowering stress, and there was no big association between higher intake of fruit and veg – above seven daily servings – and lower stress levels.
“This study shows that moderate daily fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with lower rates of psychological stress,” Dr Melody Ding of the University of Sydney's School of Public Health noted.
“It also reveals that moderate daily vegetable intake alone is linked to a lower incidence of psychological stress. Moderate fruit intake alone appears to confer no significant benefit on people's psychological stress.”
Authors added that more research is required to find a possible ‘threshold’ between medium and higher levels of consumption and psychological anxiety.
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